They Might Be Giants' Children's Album Appeals Beyond Target Audience

The Observer, September 11, 2009
by Noah Shwartz

They Might Be Giants has done it again. You may already know them from their 2007 UPB Fall Concert performance, but if not, They Might Be Giants are a band originally comprised of the quirky, pop-savvy duo of guitarist John Flansburgh and keyboardist John Linnell. As their popularity grew with the lengths of their tours they took on bassist Danny Wienkauf, drummer Marty Beller, and lead guitarist Dan Miller.

Keeping up with their recent themes, They Might Be Giants has just released their fourth children's album and third in the "Here Comes..." series, appropriately dubbed Here Comes Science. A DVD featuring animated videos to go along with each of the poppy science themed tunes accompanies the album's release. Although it is clear that some of the songs heavily rely on their animated accompaniment, many of them stand superbly on their own.

Although my tastes usually tend towards the Linnell side of the songwriting spectrum, Flansburgh has created some real gems on this album. Chief among them are a follow up to one of their most popular songs (although not originally written by them) "Why Does the Sun Shine?" known better as, "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas." On this album Flansburgh has written a retort in the form of a groovy ditty called, "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?" in which he lets listeners know that, "The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma/The sun is not simply made out of gas, no, no, no." In addition, "Roy G. Biv" and "The Ballad of Davy Crocket (In Outer Space!)" are as catchy as they are perfectly in line with Flansburgh's quirky sense of humor.

This isn't to say that Linnell doesn't have his share of prime cuts as well, first of which is a reprint from Venue Songs entitled, "The Bloodmobile" about the red and white cells that do different jobs inside our bodies. As for new songs, "Meet the Elements" sounds like the faster pop cousin of "Even Numbers" from Here Come the 123s, and "My Brother the Ape" has the multilayered piano backdrop that only Linnell can create.

Though the Johns are the founding members of They Might Be Giants they are not the only ones who deserve praise. Danny Wienkauf's basslines drive nearly every song, and his playful notes complement Linnell's piano parts making his songs so catchy. In addition he has his own song on this album, "I Am a Paleontologist" that sounds like it belongs on a commercial modern rock station. Marty Beller also has his own song, "Speed and Velocity," which finely recaps all the information one may learn in freshman physics.

With this strong reaffirmation of They Might Be Giants' talent, the urgency at which to see them perform at the Beachland Ballroom on October 15 feels greater than ever. Here Comes Science is a testament to the brilliant way in which even the band's albums geared toward a younger audience can appeal to listeners of all ages.